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Heather Hanks
Written by Heather Hanks

Reviewed by Physician Anita Pee and Dr Angelica L Dumapit on July 18, 2022

Yin And Yang: How Do They Work In TCM?

Yin and Yang theory refers to the concept that we are all better off when we practice balance. Learn how this ancient Chinese philosophy can be applied to your life today.

Yin and yang min scaled

Do you struggle with things like fatigue, bloating, lack of energy, chronic respiratory infections, or general malaise, but all of your medical tests come back normal? If so, it could be time to consider balancing your Yin and Yang.

Achieving a balance between Yin and Yang can help you restore and maintain total mind and body health. Doing so is not as hard as you may think.

In this guide, our Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) experts explain what Yin and Yang theory is. We’ll also discuss how you can apply balance to your daily life.

What is Yin and Yang Theory?

Yin and Yang theory is a Chinese philosophy and way of life that focuses on holistic, dynamic, and dialectical principles. It states that the union of each side creates equilibrium or balance.

When balance is achieved, it creates a natural and organic state of existence in which there are complementary forces. Under this philosophy, diseases are less likely to occur.

We asked TCM Physician Anita Pee to explain. She stated, “In the Yin and Yang theory, it is believed that everything in the universe exists as two opposing yet interdependent forces – Yin and Yang. They are two opposites of a whole that cannot exist without each other.”

What is Yin and Yang?

Yin is feminine in nature while Yang refers to masculine forces.

The term Yin represents feminine forces, including Water, darkness, the moon, passivity, softness, contraction, intuition, and yielding in the universe.

Meanwhile, Yang refers to masculine forces. These include Fire, light, the sun, rational thought, activity, hardness, assertiveness, and expansion.

As Physician Pee explains, “The original meaning of each term refers to two sides facing and opposing the sun. The side facing the sun is Yang while the side facing away from the sun is Yin.”

“This is later expanded to include everything that is “sunny or active” as Yang. This includes Fire, bright, hot, day, active, and male. Meanwhile, Yin refers to things that are shady or dormant, including Water, dark, cold, night, passive and female.”

How to tell the difference between the two

Picture a slope with one side facing the sun and one facing away to help remember the difference between Yin and Yang.

We asked Physician Pee if there was an easy way to remember the difference between the two terms.

She stated, “An easier way to remember what is Yin and Yang is to picture a slope with one side facing the sun and the other facing away from the sun. The sunny side is Yang.”

How Is Yin and Yang Theory Used In TCM?

In TCM, the Yin and Yang theory is applied to understand the complex interconnections and constant changes in the human body. TCM views the body as an integrated whole, where all organ systems are interconnected and interdependent of each other.

The Yin Deficiency presents as a low-grade fever, dry mouth and throat, and irritability. People with Yang Deficiencies may be puffy or overweight, have low libido and general motivation, low back pain, and pain in the knees and legs that worsens with cold weather.

When Yin and Yang are in balance, the body is healthy. When one force dominates the other, pain and illness will arise. TCM uses this theory to diagnose patterns of disharmony and determine treatments to restore balance. 

Tips For Creating Balance In The Body

According to Physician Pee, “Yin or Yang Deficiencies can be treated using herbal medicine. In the case of Yin Deficiency, herbs that are cooling and nourishing can be used to replenish Yin in the body. These include Sheng Di Huang (Radix Rehmanniae) and Mai Dong (Radix Ophiopogonis). For Yang Deficiency, herbs that are warming and pungent can be used to boost Yang in the body. This includes cinnamon and ginger. Yang Deficiency can also benefit from heating lamp treatments or moxibustion.”

Here are some other popular products you can try:

For Yin Deficiency

Wild Cordyceps is a medicinal mushroom that may help with symptoms of Yin Deficiency. Specifically, it can be used to:

  • Nourish the Kidney and Lungs
  • Relieve cough and Phlegm
  • Improve respiratory function
  • Enhance the body’s ability to resist diseases
  • Relieve fatigue
  • Delay aging
  • Replenish physical strength

For Yang Deficiency

Lok Mei Pa Pills are often used to treat Yang deficiency in TCM. Benefits include:

  • Strengthening the loin and knees to relieve joint pain
  • Warms cold limbs
  • Reduces fatigue
  • May alleviate dizziness and excessive sweating

If you’re interested in learning more, the best thing to do is consult with a TCM physician. He or she will examine you and determine your unique body composition and prescribe TCM remedies suitable for you.


  1. Psychological Research and Behavior Management. 2021. Applying a Yin–Yang Perspective to the Theory of Paradox: A Review of Chinese Management.
  2. Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine. 2021. Homeostasis Research Model Based on Yin-Yang Theory: Five Examples.
  3. Medicinal Research Reviews. 2021. The Yin and Yang of traditional Chinese and Western medicine.
  4. ScienceDirect. Yang Deficiency.

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